NEW YORK (AP) -- The WNBA season is expanding to a 36-game schedule and adding the Commissioner’s Cup tournament the league announced Thursday.
The league had a 34-game schedule since 2003. The season begins on May 15 and ends on Sept. 20.
Each team will play 10 Cup games during the season with the last one happening on July 10. The games will be the first home and road games against conference opponents. The championship is between the top team in each conference in Cup standings and is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 14.
“We are incredibly excited to introduce a first-of-its-kind in-season tournament for our league and present more regular-season games on ABC, increasing the WNBA’s national television exposure,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “The Commissioner’s Cup offers fans another competition through which to support their favorite teams and adds a new dimension to the season for our players and teams.”
Starting in 2021, the prize money for the Commissioner’s Cup and other in-season tournaments will be a minimum of $750,000.
“We aren’t just adding games. We're kind of finding ways to garner new fans,” players’ union president Nneka Ogwumike said. “The new schedule and Commissioner’s Cup will reflect the progress and innovation we’ve been discussing.”
There will be a break in this year’s schedule for the Tokyo Olympics from July 11 to Aug. 16.
Other schedule highlights include a WNBA Finals rematch between Washington and Connecticut on June 28.
New York will play its first game in its new home - Barclays Center - on May 17.
Former league MVP Breanna Stewart will make her return from an Achilles’ tendon injury that sidelined her last year against Dallas on May 15.
Follow Doug Feinberg on twitter at https://www.twitter.com/Dougfeinberg